No further Windows refresh until 2015.
The Windows 8.1 is now upon us all, having with the now-standard 'mixed' response. However, it seems that whether you love it or hate it, this is to be the last major refresh of OS until spring 2015.
The retail story around Windows 8 is relatively simple. There are fewer versions of Windows 8 to choose from — there are four — than previous versions; for example, Windows 7 came in six different flavours.
It's the name for the company’s new tablet and ultrabook-focused operating system. This version, which comes preinstalled on computers rather than as an upgrade option, incorporates specialised versions of applications like Office Home & Student 2013 RT, but won’t run conventional Windows applications and can only be expanded through Microsoft’s Windows Store.
By contrast, Windows 8 offers the conventional upgrade path for existing systems as well as being bundled on new PCs. It incorporates the base operating system, with all its Modern user interface swish, as well as standbys like Internet Explorer 11, mail, calendar, messaging, photo management and built-in support for Microsoft’s cloud-based SkyDrive storage service. Also included are security tools like Windows Defender and Windows Firewall.
Windows 8 Pro
It incorporates all of the features in Windows 8, while adding business-related features such as BitLocker encryption, Remote Desktop Connection remote access and support for connecting to company and school networks with Domain Join.
Windows 8 Enterprise
In multiple-user environments, however, retail licences are relatively expensive and, because Microsoft puts strict controls on how particular instances of Windows 8 can be used, are inappropriate for volume licensing scenarios.
Windows 8.1 it is a free update for Windows 8 users. The first one you will notice is an update Start screen, which now shares your desktop wallpaper. It also support smaller tiles, to let you arrange more apps on your Start screen, and large ones, which can convey twice as much live information as before. On smaller screen, you can also activate a “show more tiles” option than shrink the grid to make more tiles make visible at once.
To access the all – encompassing Apps menu, swipe upwards or click the down-arrow icon. If you prefer, you can set Windows 8.1 to take you to the Apps screen when you nit the Windows key: in this case, you simply swipe down to get to the Start view.
In Windows 8, split-screen mode supported only an off-kilter 20:80 layout, but now you can drag the divider to achieve a 50:50 balance, or anything between the two. It is possible to divide the display into three or four on large display.
Microsoft’s decision to remove the Start button from the Windows 8 desktop was controversial to say the least. In Windows 8.1, it is back, in minimalist, monochrome form. However, click it does not bring back the old Windows 7 – style menu – it merely opens the Modern search interface.
Windows 8.1 offers the Enterprise version for businesses. It is useful “under the bonnet” technologies, including support for Wi-Fi Direct and NFC (Near Field Communication)¹ printing. The idea is to make it easy for individuals to connect their devices to company printers.
Workplace Join and Work Folders, aimed at fostering a Bring You Own Device culture around Windows 8. Businesses running Windows Server 2012 R2 can use Workplace Join to allow personal Windows 8 device to connect to specified network resources, without giving them full access to the company LAN (Local Area Network). It is possible for IT administrators to remotely wipe Work Folder, leaving the user’s personal data intact.
¹ Near Field Communication (NFC) is a set of standards that allows devices to establish radio communication by either physically touching them together or bringing them within very close proximity of one another (usually no more than a few inches).